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How to stream live video under water

How to stream live video under water

Question: I have a 30,000-gallon pond in which we raise turtles, frogs and koi. We want to live stream video and are looking to get underwater and night vision cameras. Any suggestions?

Answer: That is definitely a good project. Live footage of marine life is always fascinating. It's a peek to a world we rarely see. And there's nothing like the soothing scenes of a tranquil pond to calm the nerves after a long day at work.

There is really a small selection of consumer level of ready-to-use underwater cameras and if you're looking for a simple, consumer grade setup, here are some options you could look at.

GoPro camera live streaming via phone app

The easiest way to live stream underwater footage is through a GoPro Hero3 or 4 action camera in its waterproof enclosure. Connect it to a smartphone via Wi-Fi then use apps like Periscope or Livestream to stream footage directly from the GoPro. You can submerge the camera with a mount then monitor your footage from your phone's screen.

The downside with this setup is the range. The GoPro's Wi-Fi signal could only go up to 600 feet under "optimal conditions." This number will probably be even less since you are submerging the camera underwater. 

You will also have to deal with the GoPro's battery life. According to the GoPro Hero4's battery specifications, you can only do up to an hour and a half with the camera set to 720p and Wi-Fi on, so extended streaming sessions will be out of the question with this setup.

Another downside is lighting. Since you mentioned night vision, I'm assuming you are planning on shooting footage in the dark? GoPros do not have night vision and a separate lighting source will be needed.

As a side note, GoPro is releasing their Hero5 series of action cameras soon. These newer models will be waterproof up to 30 feet without the need for a waterproofing case.

Looking for an action cam? Check out this HP Action Cam available in the Komando Shop!

Waterproof enclosures

This will require do-it-yourself work but another option is to get robust waterproof enclosures such as clear acrylic globes to submerge any streaming camera you may have.

With this setup, if you could manage to seal the opening and embed a long waterproof PVC pipe, you can run your camera's power cables, USB or HDMI wires to your computer or encoder to the waterproof globe for your live stream. You can then broadcast your footage to any site that supports extended streams like Livestream or uStream.

If you want to live stream to YouTube or Facebook Live, you can use Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) to automatically encode and stream your video. You can earn a bit of cash by gaining a following on YouTube. Just turn on your YouTube account's Fan Funding feature to accept donations and monetize your content.

With this Ricoh Theta S 360 camera, you can even try live streaming 360 videos to YouTube for a truly unique experience for your viewers.

This setup is probably the most flexible and versatile but it will require a little bit of engineering to adequately waterproof the enclosure.

Underwater IP Camera

Options are currently scarce but you can also try purchasing an underwater IP webcam. IP cams are network-connected cameras usually used for surveillance and they usually have LED lights or night-vision built in.

The available underwater IP cameras, like this model from Camsecure, are outfitted with long waterproof wire leads that connect to an included encoder and power supply and can be submerged 18 meters deep. The great thing about IP cameras is that you can connect them straight to your Wi-Fi network or router and pull the stream directly and embed the feed to any website.

An underwater IP camera may be the best consumer choice according to your needs.

Pro option: View Into The Blue

If you want to go all out with your underwater footage, you can check out View Into The Blue's specialized underwater cameras. According to their website, this company strives to set new standards in underwater monitoring. They provide a selection of underwater webcam systems that might just fit your specifications.

Their prices are not cheap though. Expect to shell out at least $3,250 up to $20,000 to purchase one of their cameras.

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